The tales of intergenerational differences in employment attitude are spot on. Except when they aren’t.
By Brent Skinner
People try to put them down, just because they get around—around the Internet and the job market, that is. That’s the fable of Millenials, and as with most fabulous beliefs, it has some plausibility.
Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y, present a challenge for any recruiter. They display traits uncharacteristic of Baby Boomers or Generation X: Finding, attracting, hiring and keeping Millennials are feats demanding social media savvy, keen insight into their psyches, and patience. And a slew of apps are emerging to tackle these challenges. But let’s first look at some numbers, which reveal that the generations have far more in common than the hype has suggested, and also that our assumptions regarding who is where online might be inaccurate.
More than 90 percent of jobseekers from each of these three generations turn regularly and primarily to job boards, according The Multi-Generational Job Search, a report compiling findings from a survey of 5,268 jobseekers comprising 742 Gen Y (18-29 year olds), 1,676 Gen X (30-47), and 2,850 Baby Boomers (48-67). The results of the survey, jointly conducted during the summer of 2012 by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, unearth additional similarities in job-searching habits: Fewer than 15 percent of all generations, for instance, have their own websites for the search.
The study’s results show differences, too, in searching behavior among the generations. Some of these results are surprising, running counter to conventional wisdom and underscoring or contradicting other findings within the results. For instance, more Baby Boomers than Millennials (29 percent versus 23 percent) turn to social networks for their job searches. However, in preparing for an interview, more Millennials (25 percent) than Baby Boomers (16 percent) or members of Generation X (19 percent) seek to interact with the hiring organization’s social media profiles. Notably, 90 percent of Millennials who use social media for the job search flock to Facebook to do so, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2012 Student Survey.
“The challenge with recruiting Millennials is that they expect to build social relationships with everyone from their high school friends to their favorite public figures,” says Stéphane Le Viet, CEO and founder of Work4 Labs, provider of technology designed to improve the job-seeking experience on Facebook. “It’s no different for companies and brands; the key to successfully attracting Millennials to your open jobs is to start by building a relationship with them.”
Technology designed to help improve the candidate experience rarely serves any one generation, let alone Generation Y.
Nevertheless, technology is incrementally helping to reconcile the candidate experience that hiring organizations create with the behaviors of jobseekers and passive candidates generally, catering to jobseekers’ online haunts and preferences. And the information available on jobseekers and passive candidates alike grows, aiding the hiring organization.
“Employers have access to more information on candidates than ever. With traditional resumes, social profiles, and individual online brands, organizations are equipped with the data necessary to create the custom experience that candidates, and in particular Millennials, have come to expect,” says Mike Hennessy, CEO of SmashFly Technologies. “It’s important for employers to use tools that enable them to tap into and interpret this data so that they can provide targeted messaging.”
SmashFly recently announced enhancements to its recruitment marketing platform (RMP), which are designed to improve the way employers find, attract, and engage talent, as well as measure the results of their recruiting efforts. SmashFly’s RMP, Wildfire™, integrates with any ATS to provide a wide range of capabilities critical to the marketing of open positions.
Also recently, iCIMS announced the launch of Connect, an addition to the company’s suite of talent management products. Connect simplifies and enhances the ways that recruiters can identify and engage with passive candidates online, not necessarily to hire them now, but to build a pipeline for the future. The system builds on the notion implied in Millennial Branding and Beyond.com’s joint research—i.e., that all candidates, passive and active and especially Millennials, are striving to interact with employer brands.
Even in today’s stagnant economy, hiring essentially means selling. Too many hurdles will dissuade talent from applying. In order to weed out the undesirable talent—who will persist, because they need the work—smart hiring organizations might consider clogging the public process with roadblocks while running a parallel, less public effort to woo talent for the same position. Organizations with hard-to-fill positions might be wise to choose different strategies.
“It’s important, in the eyes of a marketing person, to say, ‘We want to make sure we don’t lose these guys,’ ” says Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer for iCIMS. “If the initial steps to apply for a job are cumbersome, people will leave.” By streamlining the process it employs to qualify candidates to purchase its own recruitment marketing software, says Vitale, iCIMS intends to emulate the approach those buyers ought to use in recruiting: “Whether it’s Millennials or others, make sure you don’t lose candidates early in the game. Once you’ve determined whether or not they’re a good match, then you can delve into additional hoops for these jobseekers.”